Melbourne's plan to tackle unconscious gender bias sounds silly, but it makes sense.

Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, is tackling gender bias with the help of traffic lights — and the plan might not be as wild as it sounds.

On March 7, the city debuted what is presumably the most controversial change to pedestrian traffic signals ever: The standard male (aka pants-wearing) stick figure was replaced with a female stick figure (in a dress), all in the name of gender equality.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.


If it sounds silly, that's because it is — to an extent. Leaving aside the fact that assuming pants = man while dress = woman is a gender stereotype of its own, gender bias takes many forms with some very real-world effects, such as the wage gap, harassment, and just general inequality.

What Melbourne's yearlong experiment aims to explore is whether or not seeing women represented in everyday aspects of our lives where men are viewed as the default — such as with pedestrian signals — can have an effect on unconscious gender biases.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Whether it's gender, race, religion, sexuality, or any number of other factors, we're all biased in ways that we aren't aware of.

These are called "unconscious biases," and they fuel countless decisions each of us make each and every day — usually without us even realizing it. This type of bias is the product of culture, society, and lived experience, and it can be really tricky to identify. Google even made a really cool video identifying how unconscious bias plays into their interview and evaluation process to show how we can unlearn some of those biases.

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Luckily, there's a way to identify and address this type of bias, and it's easier than you might think.

Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji developed a test you can take to understand your own biases. And while you might be shocked by the results, remember that it's not a judgment of who you are as a person, it's the first step in becoming a more aware and unbiased individual.

In a 2015 blog post, bias expert Janet Crawford offered up some helpful steps to reduce your own biases in three simple steps: (1) build awareness through observation, (2) use whatever power you have to correct bias when you see it and improve representation, and (3) look for ways you can improve overall culture (whether it's company culture, societal, or something else). She also has a really great talk on the neuroscience of gender bias that's worth a watch.

Photo by ​Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

Will putting skirts on pedestrian traffic signals for a year eliminate gender bias? Of course not. But it does help start an important conversation that society needs to have.

So if you have a moment, go on and take some of the Harvard bias tests. You might be surprised with what you find out.

via Anthony Crider / Flickr

Dozens of "White Lives Matter" rallies were scheduled to take place across America on Sunday. The events were scheduled in semi-private, encrypted chats on the Telegram app between Nazis, Proud Boys, and other right-wing extremists.

The organizers said the rallies would make "the whole world tremble."

However, the good news is that hardly any white supremacists showed up. In fact, the vast majority of people who did show up were counter-protesters.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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